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Sunday, March 5, 2017

Confusion around “part-time” Scrum Master role and responsibilities

In a lot of cases, companies don’t hire part-time scrum masters or they convert a “technical lead” role into a “scrum master / technical lead” role. What really happens here is that something will have to give. Whether that’s going to be a lack of big picture planning, or impediments not being removed as fast as we would like, I am not sure. One thing for sure is that something will have to give.
Screenshot of Scrum Master roles from ScrumAlliance.org web site
In the case of technical leads taking on a part-time scrum master role, it means that the word “technical” in technical lead slowly loses its meaning. Within X number of hours on the given day, that technical lead would be doing less and less of coding and technical work. This could be good for the given technical lead if they want to grow their career into the direction of management, but it is not a good direction if you as a technical lead want to advance your career in the direction of software architecture positions. Let me rephrase this. Any temporary exposure to this type of work is good for people’s career, but I am mostly talking about long term impact exposure.
What could be possible solutions?
It all depends on your organization and what positions and it roles and responsibilities would be closer to the scrum master role in order alleviate some of this work from technical leads who are supposed to be guiding the team at the technical level and also using their knowledge to help out solutions architects and keep solutions architect in check with the reality. Development managers could help out alleviate most of these scrum master responsibilities in the cases when a dedicated scrum master role is not created. In some organization, project managers could perform that role. Maybe there isn’t one solution for all of this. Maybe on some teams, project managers do it. Maybe on some team, development managers take responsibilities.
Perhaps in some cases the technical lead is willing to also cover the scrum master responsibilities but this dialogue has to happen and no assumptions should be made. A short team help from technical leads with these responsibilities should be fine, but if a technical lead is not willing to take on these responsibilities in long term, it should NOT be looked at as a negative thing in that person’s career move within that organization. The organization should be happy that this person’s technical skills would be used to guide the technical team and that energy could also be channeled into technical innovations.
Almir M.


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